The USPA Nationals is underway and as you locals may have noticed, our town has been inundated with an influx of skydiving teams in and around Raeford, NC. That’s because the USPA Nationals is the largest skydiving event, and most exciting skydiving competition in the nation – and it’s happening right here at Skydive Paraclete XP!
The United States Parachute Association selects a skydiving center each year to host the largest skydiving event in the nation: The USPA National Skydiving Championships! Nationals – as it’s fondly referred to – is the long-anticipated event of the season, drawing professional skydiving teams from around the country to one place to battle it out to take the title of National Champion. And this year, we are incredibly honored to host this prestigious event!
If you’re new to the sport of skydiving, many are surprised to learn that there is such a large skydiving competition such as Nationals. But more so, surprised to learn about all the different competitive disciplines. Here are the categories of each discipline of Nationals:
4-Way / 8-Way / 10-Way /16-Way Formation Skydiving (FS)
2-Way Multi Formation Skydiving (MFS)
4-Way Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS)
Canopy Relative Work – Sequential & Rotation (CRW)
FS is a discipline where jumpers fly in a belly-to-earth orientation in teams of 4, 8, 10 and 16. The 4-Way VFS jumpers fly head-to-earth and feet-to-earth, and in 2-Way MFS jumpers fly head-to-earth, feet-to-earth AND belly-to earth! In either case, these teams a drawn a list of moves that is to be completed. The team that correctly completes each move, earns a point. The team with the most points wins.
10-Way is also a belly-to-earth orientation discipline, however instead of earning points, the team of 10 exits the plane in a single file and the team that builds the first point the fastest, wins.
Freefly teams are comprised of 3 jumpers – a camera flyer and 2 performers; and Freestyle is comprised of teams of 2 jumpers – a camera flyer and 1 performer. These teams create routines similar to a gymnastics floor routine. Some rounds are free rounds – which is up to the competitors to choreograph, and other rounds are compulsory – performing moves drawn the night before competition. This is the subjective disciplines and teams that score the highest, based on technicality, creativity, and how well the camera flyer keeps the performers in frame – wins!
The categories are separated into Open, Advanced, and Intermediate. Most of the disciplines have categories to separate the pros from the amateurs to level the playing field, and to give the opportunity to up and coming skydivers to experience competition.
If you ask any skydiver what discipline they’ll watch – most will say all of them as they may know teams from their home DZ’s, rooting for a new team, or they are diehards and can’t get enough of competition! Although we skydivers will watch them all, the most anticipated of each USPA Nationals is 4-Way FS.
It is the largest attended event is the 4-Way FS competition as this category is the gateway into competition. Meaning, last-minute pickup teams all the way to the sponsored teams will compete for the title of champion, and the top teams always battle it out in a nail-biting competition!
The top 4-Way FS teams are professionally sponsored teams from around the country. The top 3 to keep your eyes on are: Arizona Airspeed – they’ve been a team with rotating member since 1994 and have won the last few Nationals. The Golden Knights teams are another to keep your eye on and they’re a hometown favorite as they train right here at Skydive Paraclete XP! And the third team to keep your eyes peeled is a team that cross-trains between Skydiving Chicago and right here at XP – SDC Rhythm XP!
A spectator-friendly competition that is always a crowd-pleaser is the Canopy Piloting events. Canopy Piloting is jumpers performing high speed maneuvers under their parachutes close to the ground. They plane out to create a “swoop” and glide out across the horizon. Their competition is held over water and a course of gates in which judges calculate their distance, time and accuracy.
The USPA Nationals is THEE competition where the professionals, to up-and-coming skydivers, to rookies go to experience the thrill and advancement of their disciplines of choice. It is THEE place where athletes can shine, improve their skills, and bring the sport to places we didn’t think was possible over the last decade with new techniques, new technology, and new insight. Nationals is the place where industry manufacturers scout out new talent, and support current athletes. Nationals is the place where the whole community near and wide stops to watch this much anticipated event from near or far, refreshes the online scoring and watching social media like a hawk for the most recent updates.
Nationals is that competition, that moment, where all your hard work is showcased. That when you win, the whole community watches you win for your team, your home dropzone, your sponsors, your family, and your country. Because when you win Nationals, you earn an elite invitation to represent your country at the next World Meet – a coveted and highly sought after invitation.
We at Skydive Paraclete XP appreciate you wanting to come out to visit and spectate during Nationals! We encourage spectators to enjoy the activities from the patio of PK’s Bar & Grill. Spectators and competitors are welcome to utilize any parking spots and note that overflow parking will be across the street.
USPA Nationals is an extraordinary event and we are incredibly honored to showcase our facilities, our team, and our community to the athletes and supporters of this event.